Simon From Cyrene: Matthew 27:32
“32) As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.” Matthew‬ ‭27‬:‭32‬ ‭
It started as an uneventful day for Simon. He was in Jerusalem for the Passover. His travels had brought him and his two sons from the city of Cyrene which is in Libya west of Egypt. There were many Jews there who would visit Jerusalem, especially during holidays.
He and his two sons, Alexander and Rufus were up early taking in the early festivities. As tourists, they did not have the usual family gathering for the Passover. It meant they were free to walk about and take in the sites and sounds. (Mark 15:21)
Suddenly, they heard a ruckus and curiosity beckoned them to turn aside and look. As they turned down a side street toward the sound, they came upon some Roman soldiers leading three men down a street to be crucified. It was a frequent site, but what was unusual was an angry mob that had gathered to mock and cast insults at the front man. Simon stepped forward to get a clear view.
To his surprise, the front man already looked exhausted and mutilated. People were cursing, swearing and spitting at Him. On his head was a crown crudely woven from thorns. His back was ripped open and bleeding. It had been torn open by a Roman scourging whip.
Just as He was about to pass Simon, the condemned man stumbled and fell under the load of His cross. A few women who were following and weeping tried to push their way to Him and help, but the Roman soldiers used their spears as a barricade to hold them back.
Then it happened. The Centurion reached out and grabbed Simon by his arm and angrily said, “You, step in and carry His cross.” He had no choice. Roman Law allowed a soldier to force any non citizen to carry a load for one mile.
Simon glanced at his two sons and said, “Follow at a distance. I will find you when my mission is complete.” With that, Simon stepped in and two soldiers lifted the wooden cross and placed it on him. He was now leading the caravan.
Then they forced the condemned man to His feet and He stumbled after Simon. Around His neck hung a sign that read; “The King Of The Jews!” This provoked the crowd even more.
By this point, the crowd of women following the three condemned men was growing larger. They were weeping and mourning. Then the exhausted condemned man nearly stumbled again. He paused for a moment and then turned back to look at His mourners.
A moment of silence swept over the crowd as He spoke; “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”” (Luke‬ ‭23‬:‭28‬-‭31)
The crowd was astonished! Some wondered if it was a threat. Others said; “No, it had more the ring of a prophecy.” The brief words penetrated deeply. It was a gloomy prediction of future events in Jerusalem that would affect many. The words had an eery resemblance to the mourning in Egypt years earlier during the first Passover when every Egyptian home experienced a death. Was He saying something of that tragic magnitude awaited Jerusalem in the near future?
There was little time for contemplation. The centurion pushed Simon with the butt end of his spear and yelled; “Get moving.” Simon knew better than to protest.
Shortly, they ascended to the gloomy place called “Golgotha.” The very word meant “the place of the skull!” It was the site of much blood shed and human suffering. The Romans used it to send a blunt message to the populace that they were absolutely intolerant of crime and rebellion. They opted for public Capital punishment rather than silent incarceration to control the populace. It was an effective psychological control tool used by Rome throughout its concurred territories. They were ruthless.
As quickly as it started for Simon, it abruptly ended. After lowering the cross to the ground at the foot of the executioners, the Centurion barked; “You are free to go.” Then he sarcastically added; “Thank you for your service to Rome!”
As he turned, Simons eyes momentarily met the eyes of the condemned man. He was astonished, for it was not the eyes of anger or bitterness that met him. Rather it was the look of love and compassion. He said nothing to Simon, but his lips slightly moved. Simon could not hold back his own tears for he knew exactly what the stranger meant; “Thank you!”
Simon stumbled back through the crowd. His heart was pounding. A few women from the mourners touched him and sent the same glance of gratitude.
His mind was racing. Simon had so many questions; “Who was this king of the Jews?” “Why was His demeanor so different?” “Why me?” His mind was forever imprinted with that brief look into the depths of his soul. He intuitively felt that the condemned man was doing something far greater for him than the momentary service he provided in carry that rugged cross.
His daze was interrupted by the familiar voice of his two sons. “Dad, Dad… we’re over here.” Then Rufus said; “Do you know who that is?” “He’s the One we’ve been hearing all the miraculous stories about!” He’s the man we were hoping to see during this trip. “That is Jesus the Nazarene!”
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global